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The Dark Side Of Earthworms

Courtesy of the University of Vermont

From a young age, we’ve been taught that earthworms are our friends. They help farmers by breaking down organic material and breaking up the soil. They also make great bait for fisherman. Charles Darwin was so fascinated by earthworms that he spent 40 years researching them.

But that’s only half the story. Vermont has at least 16 species of worms and none of them are native. Most of them are, in fact, invasive, meaning they actually compete with native species for resources. And there are other reasons to be wary of the earthworm.

Josef Gorres, a professor of ecological soil management at UVM. He does research on earthworms. He spoke with Vermont Edition about why earthworms might be causing harm to the understory of our forests.